We’ve all been guilty of this from time to time: venting to others about what’s not working in our relationship. We’ll complain to our friends and family endlessly. We’ll talk to our therapist for years, re-living the same troubles over and over and over again. Sometimes, we’ll even confide in someone else we’re drawn to – someone who we think understands us and our perspective – and it unintentionally becomes something that looks and feels like an emotional affair.
But if we want our relationships to weather whatever storm it has come upon, venting to others can bring a title wave of troubles. Here’s why:
- You’re Talking to the Wrong Person. If your relationship is struggling and there’s something that needs to be said, then the person you should be talking to is your partner. Things don’t magically get better when we ignore the issues and don’t communicate with one another; it’s been my experience and that of my clients, that when gone unchecked, the problems we ignore actually become deeper and the distance between the partners grows wider.
- They Can Only Tell You Their Story. Other people can only tell you what they would do if they were in your position. They can only see and understand your situation through their own lens of their own life experiences. None of which, however, is relevant to your situation, to what you feel, or to you and your partners’ life experiences. And this is yours to do.
- Your Family & Friends are there to Love You, Not Challenge You. And because they love you, they will support you, they will empathize with you, but they won’t necessarily challenge you. They’re more likely to say, “Oh my goodness, that’s horrible,” and “You don’t deserve that,” than they are to say, “Have you considered looking at it through this perspective…” And although that love and support makes you feel heard and validated, it does nothing to challenge you and help you grow in order to improve the relationship.
- The Blind Leading the Blind. All of us went to school for decades to learn how to read, write and acquire a skill that makes us productive members of society. But in all those years, there was no class on how to create and sustain healthy, loving relationships. You weren’t taught how to do this and neither was the person you’re venting to and looking to for guidance. If you truly want help, seek out a professional coach or therapist specializing in love and relationships that’s equipped to help you.
- All that Talking Will Keep You Stuck. The problem with telling and re-telling the story of what’s not working again and again is that it can keep you stuck in that same story for months or years. And when you’re stuck in the same rut, telling the same story, there’s no space for anything new to be created. And since there’s so much to vent about within this relationship, clearly it’s time for a new story to be created and new tools to be employed.
- They Don’t Belong There. The relationship you have with your partner is arguably the most important, most intimate relationship you have. The space that exists between the two of you is special; it’s private. It’s the place where you feel safe enough to share the most intimate details of your life: your hopes and dreams, your fears and insecurities. When you share the details of your relationship with someone outside of the relationship, you’re bringing someone else in where they don’t belong. That’s awkward for them and potentially destructive for you.
I often tell my clients to be intentional about who you share the troubles of your relationships with because in doing so, you’re essentially rolling out the red carpet for them to have an opinion and in many ways, you’re inviting them into your relationship. I know it feels natural to want to talk to someone that will understand and support you when you’re in the eye of the storm, but if we spent half as much time and energy communicating, we likely wouldn’t have nearly as much to vent about.
Sharon is a certified Master Life Coach and a Six-Time #1 International Best-Selling author, specializing in love and relationships. Click here to get a copy of her best-selling book, Why Isn’t This Marriage Enough? Get answers and soulful guidance that will lead you to clarity about your marriage and know if it can feel good once again.
I appreciate the advice, while it’s good, it won’t work 4 my husband! He still believes he did nothing wrong!